In today’s post I would like to propose an idea for a different support model for global evangelism and missions.
Here is the story. A few days a go I was looking at a map of internet use around the globe. The article that came along with the map made mention of the fact that only 1/3 of the global population had access to the internet. That means 2/3 of all people are not connected to the internet.
This was interesting to me. I had no idea that this many people were not connected to the internet. There are many reasons that the internet is not available to these people. Some reasons are due to government interference while other reasons include the lack of basic resources like water and electricity. I could talk a lot about that but I will save it for another post. I am sure you can speculate on other reason that the internet is not available to these areas.
I have included this map that shows the areas of the world that have little to no access to the internet.
As I looked at this map I started to think about people groups across the globe that are unreached with the Gospel. I pulled up a map from the Joshua Project website to check out where the majority of these people groups are located. I have included that map below.
Do you see any similarities between the two maps?
I know I do. I see a lot of similarities. The 10/40 window is unreached with the Gospel and also unreached with internet access.
I also see a lot of opportunity.
The opportunities abound. Here are 6 I am thinking of:
- Bringing the internet to different regions can be a pipeline for the Gospel.
- The internet in new regions can blossom into new opportunities for those people groups. Examples:
- Access to the Gospel message like never before.
- Access to free education.
- Access to banking
- Access to health information
- Business opportunities.
- Job opportunities
- Providing internet access can be a business for believers in these regions. This business will provide new sources of income for communities and individuals.
- Providing internet access can be a way for missionaries on the field to support themselves while there.
- Their support could come from the operation of the internet service.
- It allows them access to other opportunities online to earn an income.
- In areas where there is resistance to missionaries they could come in as trainers that teach how to use different programs. i.e. education software, business and banking software, etc. They could charge fees for these courses.
- There are opportunities to earn an income online through freelancing that would allow the missionaries to remain on the mission field while working in a freelance capacity. There are already sites like fiverr and freelancer that make this absolutely possible.
- The introduction of the internet and its growth can help raise these people groups out of poverty. As the individuals flourish they can then pass that to their communities that begin to flourish.
There are a multitude of other wonderful reasons that should compel us to at least consider this path. I am sure you have already considered a number of problems that this would present. I am mindful of the seemingly insurmountable problems that are presented but as with any new endeavor these problems can be overcome.
The Primary Proposal
A super oversimplified vision:
I am proposing that a business be started that creates new technologies (hardware and software) that brings the internet to the 2/3 of the global population that do not yet have access. The business would create revenue through several avenues. The model for this will need to be developed more thoughtfully than what I have in mind right now. But there will be revenue from data usage as well as software usage.
When the business is operating it will then recruit individuals who are called to serve the people in the 10/40 window. These individuals will then be hired by the company to take the new technologies to the new areas in this 10/40 window. When they are hired they will be put through a rigorous 6 month to 1 year training program that teaches them how to implement the new technology. The individuals will receive a salary and other benefits as they move to other countries and seek to implement the new technology.
This will be the mission field for these individuals. As they teach how to use the internet this will open opportunities to share the Gospel. It will also allow new groups of people to thrive because of opportunities they have never had before (listed above).
That is a three paragraph limited synopsis of this vision. More to come in a later post.
I Know What You Are Thinking
Let me qualify a few things here that may have crossed your mind. I do not believe the internet and access to the internet are the answer for these people groups. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only source of hope and salvation for these unreached groups.
I know that the problems that this idea faces seem insurmountable. One problem that exists is the fact that in this 10/40 window there is also a large concentration of people that live in poverty. I have included a map below.
You will notice this map, in many ways, looks like the other maps above. The areas where I am proposing to start this business are some of the poorest in the world. Which brings up the question; How can you operate a business where the majority of the people live on less than $2.00 per day and have no access to the basic necessities for life? To answer that I say, That is a great question and I believe it has a number of good answers. Like I said above there will need to be some new technologies created and also some creative business models created. That would be one of the first problems this new company would need to solve.
I Am Not Crazy
If you are reading this and thinking, “This is a crazy idea!” Then you need to check out these links. Two companies, facebook and Google are already at work trying to provide the internet to the 2/3 who are without it. Here is what Google is doing through their Loon project. They are going to provide the internet through a network of balloons that move up and down in the atmosphere to achieve consistent access. And here is the facebook program. They are attempting to create a network of satellites that provide internet access.
These giants of our day are working to provide this and I think we should work here too.
To use a football analogy, facebook and Google are the passing game and this company would be a part of the running game. To accomplish this task it will take all of these efforts and more.
Don’t Abandon The Internet
The internet is place where people are and I believe we should have a consistent Gospel presence there that seeks to bring Glory to the Lord through what we say, do, and teach. Of course, just like anything, we need to be cautious in this area. The internet is only a tool that can help in the advancement of the Gospel and that tool is only useful when used by faithful servants.